In 1967, Mike Wallace narrated a CBS special report on homosexuality that makes for fascinating viewing today:
The report is fascinating to watch, not only because it shows the kinds of attitudes toward gays that were accepted without argument – “neither interested in nor capable of a lasting relationship” – but because it shows how so many homosexuals accepted and incorporated into their own identity a view of themselves as immature and sick.
Imagine you are sitting in a café in 1967 with a small group of liberal, progressive, educated young people, and you are trying to convince them that gay marriage should be legal. Would your audience be impressed with your arguments? Probably not as much as you might think, because the arguments in favor of gay marriage were old arguments years before the gay rights movement reached critical mass. There are a number of reasons why support for gay rights went from being only an interesting idea to being a sine qua non of progressive thought, but it wasn’t because somebody thought up a new argument. So if you were sitting in a café in 1967 and trying to make the case for gay marriage, whatever you said might well come across as a somewhat artless re-hashing of old arguments. If you said, for example that homosexuality was not a choice, that homosexuals were not child molesters, and that homosexuals were capable of meaningful relationships, your progressive café companions might well agree with you. If fact, they’d probably know a few “roommates” whose homosexuality was an open secret. And yes, they’d say, by all means, we should leave the homosexuals in peace and the police should not harass them. But if you argued that two gay men should be able to get married, adopt children, and start a family, your companions would raise their eyebrows, smile, and tell you that you had some very interesting ideas.